Cooperation Region P.A.C.A. – Region of LORI – Highlands of Provence®

From the first moments following the Spitak earthquake on December 7, 1988, the SOUTH Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, mobilized to provide men, equipment and financial assistance to the Armenians, a people dear to the hearts of the French of Provence. Gradually, this emergency aid provided to the Region of LORI deviated from the only humanitarian field to come to support other parts of the Armenian economy.

Since 2012, this technical and financial support of the Region SOUTH Provence-Alpes- Côte d’Azur has targeted two key components of local economic development: tourism and heritage.

With regard to these sectors, the SOUTH Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region supported the French association Les Hautes Terres de Provence®, an  intercommunal tourism office of the Alpes de Haute-Provence, to accompany in its tourism organization the mining valley of the Débed, called Tumanyan Land, named after the famous Armenian poet from this northern part of Armenia.

In an original way, an ambitious public-private partnership was set up under the impetus of the LORI prefecture between VALLEX and the municipalities to create a foundation for tourism development “LORI”. With financial support from the SOUTH Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region and the Highlands of Provence®(HTP), an intercommunal tourism office was inaugurated in Alaverdi in September 2015.

Below is the chronology of the missions and achievements made since 2012.

                                                             2012 – Discovery and summary diagnosis
Phase 1: support mission of cooperation Region P.A.C.A. 

* Period: September 30 to October 6, 2012 Location: LORI * Discover the region of LORI and its local officials.           * Summary diagnosis and proposal of action plan for the creation of an intercommunal tourism office.

2013 – 2014 Creation tourism office

Phase 2: support for the creation of an intercommunal tourism office

* Period: From 4 to 9 November 2013 Location: LORI * Information and awareness of local elected representatives    * Proposal for a local development action plan around a project per village: Akhtala: museum space De Morgan (in partnership with the French museum of St Germain en Laye) – Alaverdi: seat of the intercommunal office of the country of Tumanyan – Ardvi: Valorisation of the mausoleum of St Jean d’Odzun – network of hiking trails – Dsegh: road of the Khachkars-who-speak around Armenian-speaking poets – Haghpat: home of the fauna reserve of the country of Tumanyan – Odzun: twinning with Tallard in Provence (place of meeting of the diaspora around the cult of St Grégoire d ‘Amnice, Armenian evangelist died in Tallard in 404) – Toumanian: rafting on the Débed * Roadmap of the director

Phase 2: training of the director

* Period: November 9 to December 6, 2013 Location: FRANCE * Training of Christine Yéritsyan in Provence at the head office of the Highlands of Provence®

* Help with the realization of a welcome leaflet * Marketing initiation * Tourism organization, relationship with the service providers * Proposal for the layout of the premises d’Alaverdi * Haghpat massif wildlife assessment campaign with photo trap * Internet animation

Phase 3: training of the director (complement via internet)

* Period: December 2013 to August 2014 * Training – Internet animation (continued and end) * Help to the realization of a leaflet of reception (continuation and end) * Support to the setting up of the tourism office (statutes, convention of partnerships, commercial relations TO, relation tourism providers, etc. ) * Preparation of training for country guides and evaluation of tourism providers.

                          2014 Heritage guide training and evaluation of the accommodation / catering offer

Phase 4: Training course for heritage guides – evaluation of the accommodation and catering offer 

* Period: April 5 to 15, 2014 Location: LORI * Training of a dozen female candidates country guides around the heritage of the seven founding villages of the intercommunal tourism office * Evaluation of the 23 tourist accommodation and catering service providers in the Tumanyan region.




                                                                             2014 Intermediate report

Phase 5: Intermediate report

* Period: June 15 to 19, 2014 * Visit of Alaverdi tourism office * Photographic campaign (for website and home leaflet) * Work session on the following topics:                                                                                                                                – Legal status (tourism office , foundation)                                                                                                                                        – constitutive general assembly with tourism providers (contributions)                                                                                     – reflection on the implementation of the tourist tax                                                                                                                      – development of the premises of the tourism office                                                                                                                        – action plan marketing (TO)                                                                                                                                                                 – convention and partnership brigade country guides                                                                                                                    – quality support of the providers                                                                                                                                                         – development of complementary tourist sectors                                                                                                                             – partnership with Région Rhône-Alpes for the development of the network of hiking trails                                                – end of the Hautes Terres de Provence® support with finalization of the website and edition of the 4-language welcome flyer (August 2014)

                                            2015 – Accommodation of the Tumanyan Land tourism office


                                                                  2015 – 2016 Evaluation of the sectors

Phase 6: Evaluation of the sectors   

* Whitewater – Period from 23 to 29 April 2015                                                         * Biodiversity – Period from 7 to 16 June 2015                                                         * Heritage – Period from 21 to 26 September 2015                                                   * Eagles’ Park – Period from 17 to 20 April 2016

This assessment led to propose the development of a cultural sector with the development of the Akhtala site.



                                                                    2017 – 2018 Heritage Project AKHTALA

Phase 7: Interpretation Center Project at AKHTALA

* MORGAN / ST GERMAIN FUND: period from 26 to 30 June 2017      * SCENOGRAPHY / MUSEOGRAPHY: period from 3 to 8 December

2017 Agreement of the High Armenian Religious Authorities obtained March 15, 2018.

Constitution of a steering committee and signing of the French-Armenian agreement before the beginning of the work

* CONVENTION / SECURITY CHAPEL / RECHIFFERING: period from September 2 to 8, 2018

The Spring Revolution 2018 leads to the suspension of the project .


2019-2020 AKHTALA Heritage Project under recovery.

              Visit to the Akhtala Monastery of His Excellency Mr. Jonathan Lacôte,  Ambassador of France in Armenia, Tuesday, December 5, 2017


The entrepreneurial model of tourism office has the particularity of fueling the cost of its operation by tourism receipts generated on projects studied and managed by its services as opposed to the conventional model whose operating cost is based exclusively on subsidies. The first lives subsidies tourists while the second weighs on the population and tax. In this perspective, several projects have been developed and proposed to municipalities comprising the country in the LORI Toumanian region following several sectors: environment, biodiversity, culture , sport and heritage. It is on this last sector that the priority was put to design a permanent exhibition, managed by the tourism office Tumanyan Land, organized in a chapel of the monastery of Akhtala. This exhibition, modeled on an interpretation center, will leave a large part of the mine, minerals and men through the Ages with as gateway, Jacques de Morgan, French mining engineer, pioneer of modern archeology, having resided at the end of the nineteenth century in Akhtala. Most of the archaeological material of his excavations is stored in the reserves of the French National Archeology Museum of St Germain-en-Laye which accepted the principle of a loan under this project. The monastery of Akhtala already attracts many tourists thanks to its remarkable site and the 12th century polychrome frescoes in an excellent state of preservation which decorate the church of St. Mary of God, the most beautiful in Armenia. His Excellency Jonathan Lacôte was the honor to Akhtala commune of his first official trip outside Yerevan since his recent appointment. He was able to meet the French delegation who presented the site, the project and more broadly the privileged cooperation between the PACA region and the region of LORI. Ci-after report of the Armenian regional television: